Pilot launches to support communities’ access to cash

A new independent initiative has launched to help communities retain free access to cash, as the UK shifts to an increasingly cashless society.

Communities across the country are encouraged to apply to participate in the new Community Access to Cash Pilots, which will help to test solutions to local access to cash needs, with the goal of developing scalable solutions which can inform national policy.

The chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots Board, Natalie Ceeney, is asking for communities to volunteer to take part in the pilots. Successful applicants will work alongside the payments and customer experts to develop solutions that will help them to adapt to the changing payments landscape.

Solutions will be developed by and with communities, to meet local needs. The aim is to create new approaches to current challenges, which include helping local shops to give cashback, supporting groups to become more comfortable making digital payments or developing solutions to help small businesses continue to bank cash.

The launch of the pilots follows the publication Access to Cash Review last year, which found that 17 per cent of the UK population rely on cash, with vulnerable communities, including the poor and those in rural areas, at particular risk from reduced access to cash.

The Community Access to Cash Pilots is one of many steps being taken in response to the findings of the review and aims to address the recommendation that communities are helped to prepare for the changing payments landscape. The independent initiative has been developed in partnership with the banking and finance industry, which is providing investment support.

Ceeney commented: “With the UK becoming an increasingly cashless society we need to make sure that digital payments work for everyone, but we also need to support communities who rely on cash, so that no-one gets left behind.

“We are very keen to hear from local communities and work with them to identify solutions, acting as a test bed for the type of measures that could be rolled out more widely.”

UK Finance recently forecasted that within a decade only one in 10 payments will be made in cash.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, so understanding the needs of local communities is critical – that is why we are supporting the Community Access to Cash Pilots initiative as an additional industry measure to improve access, helping local areas develop and support solutions that work best for them.”

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